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Ex-Lawmaker Seeks Dismissal of Extortion Case


SACRAMENTO — An attorney for former Sen. Paul B. Carpenter asked the federal district court Tuesday to dismiss criminal charges against the Democratic politician, contending that government investigators "engaged in acts of misconduct" to entrap him and systematically destroyed or distorted evidence in order to win a conviction.

The legal motion is an attempt to discredit an elaborate federal sting operation, in which undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen tried to buy favorable treatment for bills that would help their phony company.

In court filings, Carpenter's attorney, Charles F. Bloodgood, argued that the government withheld vital information that could have exonerated the former lawmaker when the case first came to trial in 1990.

Carpenter was convicted of extortion, racketeering and conspiracy charges and sentenced to a 12-year prison term, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. A retrial on the same charges is scheduled to begin June 14.

The conviction forced the onetime Cypress lawmaker, who left the Senate for a seat on the state Board of Equalization, to step down from elected office.

Bloodgood, in papers filed Tuesday, contended that the sting was an "elaborate ruse to ensnare selective legislators into taking or requesting bribes" and that the original targets were Democratic leaders in the Legislature, including Carpenter, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown of San Francisco, and Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti of Van Nuys. Neither Brown nor Roberti has been accused of improper conduct.

In addition, Bloodgood accused the FBI of manipulating a key government witness, former Carpenter legislative aide John Shahabian.

As reported earlier by The Times, Shahabian in a letter to prosecutors accused investigators of coercing him into becoming an informant in 1987, using inaccurate transcripts of conversations he had with an undercover FBI agent.

One of the charges carried over from Carpenter's first trial is that he attempted to solicit a bribe from officials of Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School in Los Angeles.

However, Bloodgood said in his filing that a person supposedly present when the bribe was solicited told the FBI that the conversation never took place--information that was not made available to the defense during Carpenter's first trial.

Prosecutors deny any improper conduct and said they are prepared to fight the dismissal motion.

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